We’re entering the final weekend of the legislative session, with Monday being the constitutional deadline to adjourn. House Public Information Services has nonpartisan daily recaps of legislative activity, as well as livestreamed video of committee hearings and floor sessions.
Last night, Governor Walz announced the next steps in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He extended the current peacetime emergency another 30 days, which will enable his administration to continue to respond efficiently and effectively to the crisis. He also announced the Stay at Home order, in its current version, will expire on Monday. Retail establishments and other non-critical sector businesses will be able to open at 50 percent capacity, and small gatherings of 10 or fewer people will be allowed.
Bars, restaurants, salons, and gyms will remain closed until at least June 1 and large gatherings remain prohibited. Minnesotans are requested to continue practicing physical distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick. Vulnerable Minnesotans, including those with compromised immune systems, should still stay home. In order to reopen, any non-Critical Sector business or retail establishment must have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place to protect the health and safety of their workers, and businesses must follow CDC and OSHA guidance. More information about these requirements is available here.
The governor’s plan empowers and safeguards workers by allowing them to raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation. It also protects workers from loss of income if they refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
The governor isn’t flipping a switch, but is gradually turning the dials. I remain confident in our state’s health officials, and they will still keep close tabs on key indicators, like new cases and health care system capacity. There’s a chance that if these go in the wrong direction, restrictions could be put back in place. We all have a part to play in keeping everyone safe and healthy, and preventing the spread of this illness. You can read more about these new executive orders here.
One of the best ways to help our economy recover, and get Minnesotans back to work, is by passing a robust bonding bill, with investments in important public infrastructure. The House DFL’s Local Jobs and Projects Plan contains $2.52 billion worth of investments in our higher education institutions, clean water infrastructure, correctional facilities, roads and bridges, parks and trails, public safety facilities and more. In Duluth, several key local priorities are included such as UMD’s A.B. Anderson Hall, Northern Lights Express rail between the Twin Cities and Duluth, Duluth Seawall improvements, Lake Superior Zoo, and the Duluth Depot.
You can access a full list of the projects here. To pass a bonding bill off the House Floor, it takes a three-fifths supermajority, and therefore requires bipartisan support. We will continue encouraging our Republican colleagues to join us in making these important investments in Minnesota communities.
While we continue to focus on the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, we are also working on other important legislation as well. Yesterday, the House approved my bill to help protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. The legislation allows financial services providers to disclose information to investigators and freeze disbursements or transactions when fraud is suspected.
In 2018, the Legislature enacted the Financial Exploitation Protections Provided for Older and Vulnerable Adults Act focused on securities fraud, and my bill expands this to banks, credit unions and lenders. Minnesotans are already under financial duress during this pandemic, and financial services providers need the ability to quickly address potential fraud and prevent bad actors from taking advantage of those who may be vulnerable.
To keep this year’s elections safe this year, Minnesotans should consider voting absentee from their own home. You can now request your ballot be sent to you for both the August 11 primary and the November 3 general election.
You can request an absentee ballot here. The online application will ask for an e-mail address and an identification number, either a Minnesota-issued driver's license, Minnesota ID card, or last 4 digits of Social Security Number. You can check your voter registration status online and register or update your voter registration.
Please visit the state COVID-19 Dashboard for all the latest in our effort to fight this pandemic. The Minnesota House website has links to resources and other helpful information as well. Also, continue to contact me directly if I can be of help. My email is email@example.com and phone number is 651-296-2228. It’s an honor to represent you.